by Eulana Weekes
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): A graduation ceremony on Monday, November 7, 2022, marked the official closing of the Emergency Medical Responder Course, which spanned 12 weeks (March 28 to June 17) to emergency personnel in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Thirty officers of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force and the St. Kitts-Nevis Fire and Rescue Services are now better equipped with the skills and knowledge to assist civilians and colleagues during emergencies.
The Division of Health Sciences spearheaded the Emergency Medical Responder Course at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College under the leadership of Dean Dr. Rondalyn Bradshaw. The course consisted of seven modules; Preparation, Patient Assessment, Airway and Ventilation, Medical Emergencies, Illness and Injury, Emergency Medical Responder Operations, and Infants and Children.
The medical course prepared participants to provide life-saving support in pre-hospital emergency settings, including but not limited to the application of CPR, control of haemorrhage/bleeding, treatment of shocks, immobilisation of fractures, bandaging a wound, initiation of poison treatment, performing different methods of lifting and moving patients, controlling bleeding using hemostatic equipment, checking vital signs, as well as the delivery of babies. The sessions were held in person and virtually, using differentiated learning methods, including videos and practicals. Participants were required to complete a practical and theoretical assessment, of which they all returned passing grades.
Dr. Rondalyn Bradshaw, whilst giving an overview of the course, said, “gone are the days when officers call for an ambulance and wait for them to arrive.” She explained the importance of police and fire officers being trained to save lives.
Bradshaw said, “Emergency Medical Responders are a vital part of the comprehensive emergency medical services response. Let me again reiterate that the utilisation of law enforcement, police officers, fire and rescue, defence force, these are our first responders during medical emergencies and you have the potential to decrease the time it takes for a patient to receive life-saving care; thus, patients who experience a sudden cardiac arrest, penetrating or significant trauma, they benefit greatly from programmes that [equip] law enforcement officers to provide immediate life-saving care.”
Fire Sub Station Officer Mr Timothy Martin gave an overview of the course from a participant’s perspective. He highlighted some of the most memorable moments of the course.
“My fellow students, what is one of the main focuses we were taught in preparation? Handwashing; one of our weekly rituals. I am sure after just two weeks of doing practicals; I started washing my hands in my sleep. If it is one thing, we all learned from this course is the proper way to wash our hands before engaging a scene and also after dealing with a patient. Patient Assessment dealt with (Lifting and Moving Patients). I think the lecturers enjoyed that practical session a bit too much. We had to demonstrate the proper techniques for lifting and moving a patient. The only thing was the patients were the lecturers. So, we got to toss a few over our shoulders. You know how we firefighters do it, right guys? If you were not familiar with seeing blood, you came to the right course. Our Illness and Injury module covered Bleeding and Trauma. The sight of what appeared to be blood was everywhere. It is there that some of us learned never to wear white at practicals.”
Martin expressed appreciation to the lecturers for imparting their knowledge and expertise to the group of first responders.
He stated, “The reality of emergency response only kicks in when something real happens. This may involve sights of devastation, destruction or tragedy, the sounds of crying and wailing, [and] the stench of blood and smoke. None of these realities can truly be replicated in a classroom setting, but with all the skills and techniques taught and learned, we are much more versatile in responding to emergencies than we were at the beginning of the course. We now have the knowledge and skills required to provide lifesaving opportunities and assessments to those needing care at a professional level. We will be forever grateful for the various learning methods and experiences shared to us by our amazing and valuable facilitators. They prepared a great foundation for us to practise life-saving scenarios, thus ensuring that the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is not left behind in a world of constant medical advancements.”
In words of encouragement to his colleagues, Martin suggested that they accept their certificates with the consciousness that an emergency can occur in a split second. He also reminded them that their duty as emergency personnel does not only mean being first on a scene but also being in a position where vital decisions must be made and crucial, urgent actions must be taken.